To conclude Black History Month, the Black and Latinx Student Union (BLSU) hosted its annual talent showcase and put on a hip-hop and activism interactive presentation from Jermaine Wells and the ILL Funk Ensemble.

 These events were a part of the month-long celebration that also included art workshops and  pop-up art exhibits in Kirner-Johnson Building and currently in the Days-Massolo Center. The Posse Plus Retreat, which encouraged the important conversations surrounding race and identity to take root on campus, was held earlier this month.

Adrian Summers ’19, president of BLSU, summarized the main goals of the organization “as the active promotion and cultural enrichment of Black and Latinox students, as well as to heighten the consciousness of, and deepen the appreciation of Black and Latinx culture in the Hamilton community.”

 The BLSU hopes to be a forum for the exchange of ideas, as well as create a comfortable atmosphere for Black and Latinx students to express problems they may encounter. The group also seeks to project a positive image of Black and Latinx students in and outside the College community.

The annual talent showcase on Feb. 18 focused on black identity and contributions to society. Performances varied and included poetry readings (both originals and by black poets), a Stevie Wonder cover, a monologue from Lavina Speaks, and a beatboxing tribute. “We hoped to show our members that Hamilton appreciates their talent and their uniqueness, and if not for the talents of many historical black figures, many of us would not be here today,” Summers said.

The Feb. 20 interactive concert and presentation from Jermaine Wells on hip-hop history and activism had similar goals to the BLSU showcase, building an appreciation for the work done by hip-hop artists for the black community. Wells encouraged the audience to be activists saying, “If you want to be an activist, you’ve got to act,” and played several key performances by James Brown, Kendrick Lamar, and Queen Latifah among others. The presentation included cover and original performances by the ILL Funk Ensemble, as well as a notable freestyle rap session with Ricardo Million ’19 and Keon Garret ’18.

Summers believed the events were a great start for the semester. “Whether people came to watch their friends paint, grab some Jamaican beef patties, or bask in the presence of smooth live action hip hop, our turnout for each event was very high. Our general meetings’ attendance has also skyrocketed,” Summers said.

 Of great importance to the group is empowering its members within the Hamilton community based on the pillars of academics, cultural awareness, diversity and social justice. These events provided the Hamilton community with opportunities to appreciate ethnic diversity.

This semester, BLSU will be featuring more Latinx musicians, showing Moonlight, and additional art activism workshops.

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